Gaze at the cover of Golden Triangle's latest album, Double Jointer, and you'd gather that the Brooklyn sextet sound something like Black Dice's DMT'd disco-noise jams.
The collage, by Golden Triangle guitarist Cameron Michel, depicts a hypersurreal vista full of incongruous objects, colors, and textures that suggest musicians given to recording under the influence of potent drugs. (The Golden Triangle, after all, is a region in Southeast Asia notorious for its prodigious opium production.) The band's music, however, is more earthbound, although no less thrilling for that. Golden Triangle have simply repapered Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and harnessed Joe Meek's otherworldly reverberations to their own garage-rocking ends.
Double Jointer, the group's debut full-length for local label Hardly Art, finds Golden Triangle transferring '60s girl groups' ebullient harmonies into the combustibly fuzzy guitar flourishes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Scottish C86charmers the Shop Assistants, both of whose roots go back to the Ramones' swift, lean punk ramalama. Golden Triangle's appropriation of this fertile sliver of rock history comes off as neither overly studied nor cloyingly naive. Their songs get right to the point, and then make that point with indelible melodies and arrangements featuring Vashti Windish and Carly Rabalais's coquettish (yet tough), soaring unison vocals and a rampaging thrust that'll prepare you for all sorts of action. That being said, album finale "Arson Wells" hints at a more expansive direction, one that pushes Golden Triangle into flammable psychedelic territory.
Mostly, though, Golden Triangle's tight numbers burrow into your senses with a blithe abruptness. The rave-up is where they really excel, but their slow-burners also cast a heartwarming glow without inducing a diabetic coma. These are familiar machinations, of course, but Golden Triangle invest them with genuine passion.
Regarding the names referenced above, drummer Jay High observes, "All the artists you mentioned have a knack for timeless songwriting and production methods, whether it be simply mixing each instrument equally so they stand out [or] representing the sound of the band as if they were to just set up right in front of you and start playing. And also a shared quality between producers of the past and those who have successfully expanded on their ideas is simply taking chances with their imaginations to push the sound further: the Ramones playing extremely fast, JAMC's levels of noise and heavier rhythms, and the Shop Assistants taking everything to new levels of catchiness.
"I think the biggest influence is actually in the production and otherworldly quality of Joe Meek," High continues. "There is something so fun and exotic about his productions that seems to come straight from his gut; it's like reaching a point with everything you know, eschewing it, and returning to an almost childlike base level of fun and exploration, just finding things that simply feel and sound good."
Toward that end, producer Chris Coady—who's also worked with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, and Blonde Redhead—suggested that Golden Triangle cut Double Jointer in Benton Harbor's Key Club Recording Company in the remote southwest corner of Michigan, to avoid distractions. The plan worked well, and Golden Triangle thrived under Coady's guidance.
"Chris really knows how to push us for the perfect take and didn't miss a moment in the process where we needed to try something again or change something entirely," High says. "He has a way of pointing out areas of the songs that need work or need drastic change that motivates you to do it in a way that's fun and doesn't distract."
Windish praises Coady's ability to capture Golden Triangle's live sound, noting, "It's funny you should mention Phil Spector and Joe Meek, because when Golden Triangle first started three years ago, I was trying to convince Chris to record us and was saying that I wanted it to sound like Phil Spector recorded us. And he scoffed and said, 'Yeah, right. I don't know how to do that!' I think Joe Meek and Chris Coady are both recording geniuses in their own way."
Studio wizardry aside, New York City itself serves as a main inspiration for guitarist O. J. San Felipe's songwriting. "Living in NY can get you crazy... So I just make songs every day, literally. I've got maybe three or four songs being made every morning in my brain that forces me to play the guitar at the break of dawn and create chords for the vocal melodies flying around in my head."
"I think our best songs just happen spontaneously and everything falls in place like magic," Windish says. Double Jointer's instant, adrenalized pleasures certainly prove that claim.